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Do RVs Need to Obey Truck Speed Limits?

Do RVs Need to Obey Truck Speed Limits?

Being a safe driver means following the rules of the road, especially when it comes to speed limits. Keeping an eye on passing regulatory signs can help you stay on the right side of the law and avoid a costly ticket. However, there are some areas where the speed limit varies based on the type of vehicle. Since it can be very confusing, you might be wondering what the RV speed limit is.

Today, we’ll make sense of the chaos and tell you everything you need to know about RV speed limits. Let’s get started!

Should RVs Obey Truck Speed Limits?

When it comes to RV speed limits, like passenger speed limits, each of the 50 states sets the speed limits. This causes quite a bit of confusion as maximum speed limits and how vehicles are classified often vary when crossing state borders. However, only five states currently require RVs to follow any speed limits different from the standard passenger speed limit.

RV Driving Safety - Safety and Security Series Part 2

So you can drive the posted speed limit unless you’re in California, Idaho, Indiana, Montana, or Washington. If you’re in these states, you’ll want to follow the truck speed limits to avoid any issues. California is by far the worst when it comes to truck or RV speed limits. They require drivers to drive 15 miles per hour below the passenger vehicle speed limit.

Is There an RV Speed Limit?

There is no specific RV speed limit. However, some states classify RVs as trucks and require them to follow the posted truck limit. As mentioned before, California is one of the states that requires specific speed limits for RVs. Any vehicle towing a trailer is not to exceed 55 miles per hour. It doesn’t matter whether you’re towing a large fifth wheel or a tiny teardrop trailer, towing is towing, and you must follow the reduced speed limit.

Where these rules can get confusing is a motorhome. Motorhomes in states like California are often in the same classification as passenger vehicles. However, if you connect a towed vehicle behind it, it’s now subjected to the towing speed limit and must not exceed 55 miles per hour.

Truck speed limit sign on highway
If you’re traveling in California, Idaho, Indiana, Montana, or Washington, you must obey the truck speed limit.

How Fast Should You Drive an RV?

RVers who value safety typically have no issues with the reduced speed limits while RVing. This is because most RVers know you usually don’t want to exceed 65 miles per hour while RVing. Trailer tires are very different from passenger tires and tend not to handle high speeds efficiently.

Keeping your speed under 65 miles per hour can help you avoid pushing your RV’s tires to the limit. An RV’s tires carry tremendous weight as they roll down the highway. The combination of weight and speed can increase the friction between the tire and the road. Friction generates heat and can cause increased wear and tear on your tires. This could lead to a catastrophic tire failure, which can cause a tremendous amount of damage to an RV.

RV Tire Speed Rating Comic
Loving this comic? Get access to our comic library here.

Can RVs Use Runaway Truck Ramps 

RVs that have lost brakes can use runaway truck ramps. They are specifically for those individuals who cannot safely stop their vehicle, regardless of its type. Using a runaway truck ramp is typically the safest option, whether in a passenger vehicle, motorhome, or towing a large fifth wheel. It can help you avoid a dangerous accident.

If you have to use a runaway truck ramp, don’t expect it to be a soft landing. These ramps are several feet deep and filled with bits of gravel or sand. Vehicles come to a very quick stop, which can be rather uncomfortable. However, it beats the alternative of flying down a hill or mountain pass with no brakes.

Pro Tip: Find out What Is a Runaway Truck Ramp and how and when you should use one.

Driving Tips for RVing

If you want to stay safe while following the RV speed limit, here are several of our best tips. Following these tips will help you stay in control and arrive at your destination safely. Let’s dive in!

Trucker yellow warning sign
Keep an eye out for yellow warning signs when towing to be aware of what to expect on the road.

Watch for Yellow Warning and Speed Limit Signs

When you’re RVing, you need to get in the habit of reading every warning sign you pass. These signs can alert you of low clearances, changes in road conditions, and hazards that might be ahead. Ignoring these RV speed limit signs or not paying attention to them can put you, your RV, and other drivers in a very dangerous situation.

The state and local road authorities aren’t putting these signs out to decorate the side of the road. They warn drivers of potential issues ahead that may require drivers to change something about how they’re currently driving. 

Allow Other Drivers to Pass

When you’re RVing, you must be aware of others on the road. Riding in the left lane, especially when you’re not the fastest on the road, holds up traffic and can get you a ticket in some areas. Make sure you allow other drivers to pass, especially when going up steep inclines that may be more difficult for a large vehicle. Use the truck lane and take your time getting up the hill. You can seriously damage your vehicle if you try to push it to its limit.

Pro Tip: Make sure to always follow these 10 Camper Towing Rules You Should Never Break.

RV Traffic Comic
Comics are funny; holding up traffic isn’t. Use the right lane and allow others to pass on the highway.

Go Slow Down Hills

Going down a hill or steep grade will quickly reveal whether your tow vehicle is capable of stopping your trailer or not. However, you’re putting yourself and others in danger if you wait until this moment to discover this fact. When going down a long or steep decline, ensure you have a capable truck and good brakes to take it slow.

If you wait until you are going too fast down a decline to apply the brakes, it’s too late. You can quickly burn through the brake pads and leave yourself in a sticky situation. Use exhaust brakes or engine brakes as assistance for slowing your RV.

Shifting into a lower gear can be helpful in some cases and may be necessary to avoid burning through your brakes. Let the engine and transmission do the work, but be careful not to overwork them, or you can do some expensive damage. Following any RV speed limits can help as well.

Adjust for Weather/Road Conditions

You must be mindful of the weather and road conditions while RVing. Not only do you have to watch for snow or rain, but also wind. RVs are notorious for having wind gusts blow them from side to side. Slow down and adjust your driving based on the weather and road conditions.

While it may be frustrating, you may need to change your travel plans to avoid driving in potentially dangerous weather. It’s better to arrive at a destination a day or two late than to push through and get into a serious accident.

Truck towing travel trailer on highway
Safety should always be your first priority when towing your RV trailer.

Give Yourself Plenty of Space

No matter how big of an RV you’re towing or driving, you’ll need more space than you might think to stop. If you’re new to towing, stopping some RVs can take almost twice as long compared to passenger vehicles.

Keeping a safe distance between you and any vehicles in front of you ensures you have plenty of room to stop when needed. You don’t want to rear-end someone because you were following too closely behind them. Some drivers will get over in front of you too early when passing, and you’ll need to adjust your speed to get an adequate distance.

Slow Down and Save Fuel and Stress

You have to remember that you’re not racing when you’re RVing. Slow down and take time to enjoy the adventure. Not only does this save fuel, but it also allows for a less stressful RVing experience. You’ll get better mpg by keeping your speed in check, and with fuel prices, you’ll appreciate even the slightest increase in MPGs.

Make sure you plan your travel days to slow down and not feel rushed. Maximizing your travel days to cover the most distance can be exhausting and dangerous. Keep it slow, especially if there’s an RV speed limit, and avoid pushing yourself to the limits regarding how long or far you’re driving.

Trailer Tire Speed Ratings: Are You Towing Too Fast?

RV Speed Limits Exist for a Reason

We can’t overemphasize safety when it comes to RVing. We’re talking about massive RVs and trailers that can do considerable damage when out of control. You must follow specific RV speed limits and remember that slow and steady always wins the race. You may not get there fast, but we’ve never encountered a campground passing out trophies to guests who arrive the fastest.

Looking for more information on how to tow your large fifth wheel or travel trailer safely? Read this: 10 Ways to Make Towing a Big Rig Less Dangerous

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Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
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Dennis & Vivian Ashworth

Sunday 26th of June 2022

Love your site. Great memories from our Fantasy RV trip with you two to Alaska. We hope you are doing well. Dennis & Vivian

PS: we were the couple who celebrated applying our Alaska sticker to our RV with you .. our 49th state … and served wine in what turned out to be a glass from the winery where you were married .. one of our favorite “small world” stories.

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